Welcome to the Paschal Triduum: Maundy Thursday
REV. JODI BARON -March 24, 2016- MAUNDY THURSDAY, Year C: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Welcome to the Paschal Triduum. If this is your first time here, welcome, if this is your many-ith time, welcome. This liturgy (tonight, tomorrow and Saturday) celebrate the heart of the Christian faith, message of salvation, and healing power of redemption.
The Triduum (or three days) commemorates the Institution of the Eucharist, the Passion, Crucifixion, his descent to the dead, and glorious resurrection at the Great Vigil of Easter.
This is the Paschal Mystery, and it takes three days of listening, praying, eating, washing, and waiting to even begin to enter into what it means for us.
During this three days, we pass over with Christ from death to life, celebrating each event in the drama of salvation and entering into the mystery of dying and rising again with the Lord of life.
But it hasn’t always looked like this.
Long, long, ago…these services were set up to be a pilgrimage for the faithful to walk those last days with Jesus on The Way of the Cross into the Resurrection. The pilgrims would travel together from place to place. First at the place of the Last Supper, then the Garden, all the way to Calvary.
It was, and continues to be, one of my favorite and most challenging times to be a part of this tradition. It’s haunting yet beautiful. It is profound and yet fairly simple and straightforward.
It is sacramental.
Each year, as I prepare to enter into this liturgy, I’m mindful of the practices I took up during Lent. I try to set aside time to reflect on what each practice revealed to me about my commitment to this calling; as a baptized Christian and ordained minister, a disciple.
So I wanted to explore a little bit about this notion of Discipleship tonight.
I have lots of things that initially come to mind when I hear the word Disciple, and it’s meant different things to me over different parts of my journey.
Follower of Jesus.
Fisher of Men.
The tradition I grew up in, Disciple of Christ…
But I read a book a while ago about the Practice of Ministry. It’s all about “discipleship.” The author, Kathleen Cahalan defines “Discipleship” like this:
to be a disciple means learning a way of life that embodies particular
dispositions, attitudes, and practices that put the disciple in a
relationship to, and participant in, God’s mission to serve and transform
She describes seven attributes of the disciple as
It stuck with me because it’s not pithy, or cliche.
It’s complicated and multidimensional.
Most profoundly, it’s communal. There’s no way ONE person could function in all those ways. It takes many.
We don’t commit to a flat, one dimensional, or even solitary way of living when we say we want to follow Jesus.
We commit to a complex, deep, transformative way of being in the world with our brothers and sisters, that is
set apart, and
strangely foreign to those not within the faith.
Remember, our king rode into Jerusalem, not on a majestic war-horse to flaunt his power and might, but instead on the back of a
donkey. A symbol of shared power, humility and equality.
He washed the feet of his followers.
He prayed in agony over what he was about to submit to in the garden, on the heels of the institution of what we now celebrate as Eucharist.
He allowed his friend to kiss him with betrayal.
He submitted to be beaten, mocked, and publically executed on the town garbage dump to further humiliate him and publically cast shame upon him.
He modeled for us this different kind of kingdom and kingship. He gave this to us and showed us what can happen when we do the same.
When we follow this king into a life of servanthood and love, even to the point of death.
My friends, tonight we do not come here wash the feet of our neighbor to make each other uncomfortable, although uncomfortable may be how we feel.
We do it to enter into the mystery of God’s love for us in the way he served his disciples.
Just as we celebrate the Eucharist because Jesus commanded us to it every time we gather, we wash each other’s feet because Christ tells us that if we don’t let him wash our feet we can have no part of him.
We do this because it is a practice that points us to the revelation of Christ the Anointed One, the Messiah.
Practice means disciplining ourselves to a life of service.
It means a commitment to molding and patterning our lives in the ways of Jesus, over and over again until it becomes so much a part of who we are that it’s in our bones.
Jesus, speaking to those at table with him, says, “Do you know what I have done to you?”
No, Jesus. I do not know what it is that you have done to me. But I’m trying. And I promise to keep trying.